Author: Sherryl Woods
Series: Sweet Magnolias #2
Genre: Chick lit
Description: (from Goodreads) Dana Sue might run the best little restaurant in Serenity, but when you're feeding a small town of neighbors, busybodies and best friends, things can get a bit hot in the kitchen. Never mind that she's putting on too many pounds (an occupational hazard for a chef)—she's worried about her too-skinny teenage daughter, Annie, who has been slowly starving herself since the loud, suitcase-tossing, name-calling fit on her front lawn that left Dana Sue minus one cheating husband.
But sometimes life picks strange ways to mend fences. When Annie lands in the hospital, Dana Sue reaches out to the man she loves to hate: Ron, the husband who took her heart when she tossed him out. Ron is still Annie's white knight, even if he's decidedly more tarnished in Dana Sue's eyes. But he still looks good enough to eat, and maybe, just maybe, to forgive. Once, Ron made the mistake of letting go without a proper fight. But now Dana Sue is about to get another taste of sweet devotion from a man tired of feeling like a fool, hungry for that slice of heaven he found with her.
I don't often read chick lit, but a dare over at Goodreads made this series sound so interesting I had to give it a go. Originally conceived as three books, each focusing on one of a trio of friends this book follows on from Stealing Home (Maddie's book), and leads into Feels Like Family (Helen's book). Having loved the first book in the series, I'd actually put off reading this one as I'd already formed opinions about Dana Sue's cheating ex. But Annie's anorexia had been mentioned previously too, and it was this storyline that convinced me to pick up this book.
Anorexia isn't something I know anything about beyond the absolute basics, but the way the storyline was handled felt very realistic to me. The author obviously did her research here, and it shows. Annie is basically a second lead character in the book, as her recovery and friendship with Maddie's son Ty attracts a lot of page time.
I wasn't sure how I'd handle Ronnie's attempt to re-enter the lives of his ex-wife and daughter, but I ended up having a lot of respect for him. Rather than making him cliched or perfect, the author made his character very realistic (kind of a warts-and-all portrayal), and this makes him far more interesting to read.
I also liked how other background characters were developed so the book wasn't purely focused on Dana Sue, Maddie, Helen and their families.
All in all, this is a great read that left me wanting more :)
Sex and nudity - One pretty tame sex scene, but there are quite frequent references to sex and an extramarital affair.
Violence and gore - None
Alcohol and drugs - None, although a character is hospitalised for anorexia-related heart failure and is obviously treated for this.
Profanity - None
Frightening/intense scenes - Nothing really although a character's battle with anorexia may be upsetting to some, especially as the psychology of the illness is described in parts.